South Africa's Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) has increased its number of container trains from six a day to between 16 and 22 trains a day, since the inception of its national control centre (NCC) about a year ago, it said on Monday.
The NCC, located in Parktown, Johannesburg, provides a centralised location for all TFR functions including macro resource and capacity planning, definition of an operational strategy, execution monitoring and management of deviation.
The NCC caters for four rail corridors, namely the Cape, Central, Natal and Eastern corridors.
Each of the corridors has a multidisciplinary team that monitors and controls the trains moving in a particular corridor. The teams are also equipped for rail engineering, infrastructure development and train planning.
Although TFR only manages operational plans for its own trains, it also manages the positions of passenger and other cargo trains.
SUPER HIGHWAY PROGRAMME
The TFR said that its market share for long-haul cargo moving on the Natal corridor between Johannesburg and Durban had increased to 30% in July this year, compared with 17% previously recorded, owing to its super highway efficiency programme introduced in August 2007.
The programme aims to improve the train capacity use from 70% to 95%, and to increase the number of daily trains on the corridor from eight to 12.
The pilot programme was introduced between the Durban Port Container Terminal and City Deep in Johannesburg.
The executive committee of Transnet had subsequently approved the container strategy and the establishment of a focused TFR container and automotive business unit.
The growth of rail based container volumes would alleviate congestion on South Africa's roads and reduce costs of logistics in the country.
The first phase of the super highway project would be focused on the development of rail solutions targeted at volume growth. The second phase would focus more broadly on the profitably of the business and on attracting more business.
TFR would roll out the super highway project on the Natal corridor to the Cape corridor and the Port Elizabeth corridor.
CITY DEEP CAPEX
Meanwhile, the TFR reported that most of its R1-billion capital expenditure planned for the City Deep terminal would be deferred until 2010.
TFR would spend only R55-million in 2009, refurbishing four cranes, as it maintains its daily load of offloading four trains and onloading five trains. However, the depot planned to increase its loading capacity to between ten and 11 trains a day.
City Deep has 18 operational trains with a capacity for a further six.
TFR said it would acquire locomotives in the near future to redeploy into its operations.
Further, the company would develop a business plan for the Kaserne yard before the end of the year, which had the capacity to be three times larger than the City Deep terminal, meaning that it would be able to hold 18 000 containers.
TFR did not indicate a budget for this development.